Juba, South Sudan - After decades of war and millions of dead, and before a crowd of tens of thousands of Sudanese and foreign dignitaries, the world’s newest nation was born in Juba on Saturday.
To rapturous cries and tears of joy, South Sudan became the 193rd country recognised by the United Nations, and also one of the world’s least developed….
The official ceremony on Saturday follows a boisterous party on Friday night. South Sudanese poured into the streets shortly before midnight, dancing, beating drums and honking car horns.
"I think you know what this means," said Joseph Bol, a soldier standing guard at one of Juba’s main intersections. "This is what we fought for. It means not having to live under anyone, it means we decide our own future."
Independence comes six months after a January referendum in which nearly 99 per cent of South Sudanese voted to separate from the north. The ballot was mandated by the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, the 2005 deal aimed at ending decades of civil war.
Some 2.5 million people were killed during the conflict between southern rebels and the government in Khartoum.
Most South Sudanese say they’re now tired of war and focused on economic development. The new state of South Sudan is one of the poorest and most underdeveloped in the world, but many seem optimistic that independence from the north will mean a better standard of living.
"This [independence] also means the beginning of development for this country," said Thon Jacob, who celebrated independence at a packed Friday-night worship service at the Emmanuel Church. "Because the resources of the south have always been used for the north. Now the government will be able to develop the south."….
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